Chocolate Covered Strawberry Pancakes
Our first Valentine's day as husband and wife.
So exciting. So special. So unexpected.
I know there are a lot of people who don't like Valentine's Day. I see it every single year. That we should show love and appreciation to the special people in our lives every day! We shouldn't wait until a Hallmark holiday to show our loved ones we care! This is just consumerism disguised as love!
First, you don't have to spend money to celebrate Valentine's Day. Just because every chocolate company has limited edition packaging for Valentine's Day, and just because Hallmark has rows of cute cards, doesn't mean that you have to buy into it.
Second, in an ideal world, of course we would show appreciation for our loved ones every day! But you know what? Life is hectic and it gets in the way. Let's keep in mind that the people in our lives are juggling more and more. School, work, kids, dating, errands. It all piles up. People are working more and more, and their paychecks aren't going as far. Many people have multiple jobs. Daycare is expensive. Schools expect more and more from students in an increasingly competitive job market.
That sounds awful right? It's a lot to keep up with. And in trying to keep up, sometimes we just aren't able to make time for the people in our lives the way we would hope. Is it really so bad to need a little yearly reminder?
Our first Valentine's ever, Greg was going on and on about how it's a silly holiday. I listened quietly and nodded. I think about a week before Valentine's Day, I said something along the lines of 'I think life gets hectic, and it's nice to have a reminder to take time for each other.'
Greg froze and went, 'wait.... do you want to do something for Valentine's Day?!' To which I sheepishly said, it would be nice, but we don't have to.
Greg immediately did a 180 and stated that we would be doing something for Valentine's Day, and that he's taking me out.
True to my statement that you don't have to spend money on Valentine's Day, I made Greg a card. Greg actually got me two cards, above. Both were hilarious, and both were a surprise. Valentine's Day is always during busy season, which means I'm working late. Greg reached out to one of my co-workers on Facebook and explained that he wanted to surprise me. He handed off the first card at work, to be placed on my desk. Like a dummy, I saw it and thought someone on my audit team got valentines for everyone. When I read it an saw it was from Greg, I IMMEDIATELY FREAKED OUT.
How did he get into the building? How did he get past security and up the elevator?? How did he know where on the floor I sat???
I found out later that he had help, but in the moment I thought this new guy I was seeing was a stalker who knew how to trespass private property and sneak past security guards.
He picked me up later that night to take me to an Ethiopian restaurant. I love Ethiopian food, but there aren't very many restaurants in NJ so I don't get to have it often and had been in the mood for it. Greg had never had it, and it was really sweet that he was willing to try something new because he knew I liked it. When he picked me up, he surprised me with the news about where we were headed for dinner, and he surprised me with a second card. I definitely didn't expect a second card from someone who was going on about Valentine's Day being a Hallmark holiday. I would learn though that cards are actually Greg's favorite thing to give. He takes time to find the perfect one for every occasion.
Why was this Valentine's unexpected? Well we unfortunately ended up in the hospital. I'm not going into the details but, it was a bummer.
The night before Valentine's Day, we decided to read about one of history's monsters in the book we've been working through together. Somehow, in this Chicago hospital, the day before Valentine's day, the monster we landed on was Al 'Scarface' Capone! The crime boss of Chicago, who found himself in charge after the Valentine's Day Massacre in 1929. I think it was a little sign from God that our Valentine's Day could have been worse. We found a little joy in this coincidence until we could get home and celebrate properly.
After finally making our way home, we got to celebrate Valentine's Day pancakes with a flavor I was really excited to try out. What says Valentine's Day more than chocolate covered strawberries? We even got heart shaped cookie cutters to make the pancakes heart shaped. You can get them here, we used the largest one.
For the chocolate, I made ganache using dark chocolate chips. Normally I would say you could use milk chocolate as well, however, the pancakes were very sweet so I would recommend using dark chocolate chips so the ganache isn't as sweet. But again, it's up to you. Personally I don't like anything that is too sweet.
For decoration, I cut some fresh strawberries into roses. Roses, chocolate, hearts, and pancakes. This was our perfect Valentine's Day.
1 box of strawberry cake mix
2 eggs, seperated
1 1/2 cups milk
1. In a large bowl, mix together cake mix, egg yolk, and milk. The batter does not need to be perfectly smooth.
2. Fold in egg whites.
3. Heat non stick skillet to medium heat.
4. Spray both the skillet and the cookie cutter with PAM. It's especially important to spray the cookie cutter so that it is easy to remove from the pancake before flipping.
5. Place the cookie cutter in the center of the skillet and pour in the pancake batter, about 1/3 cup, and if necessary, spread it around to fill the mold.
6. When the pancake is slightly firm around the edges it will start to pull away slightly from the cookie cutter. Using a pair of tongs, lift the cookie cutter from the skillet. If the pancake is still sticking to the cookie cutter, use the tongs to press the pancake away from the cookie cutter. You may need to use more PAM next time. Place the cookie cutter aside and flip the pancake. Cook for another 1-2 minutes on the other side.
*You do not need to make heart shaped pancakes, and can enjoy this recipe by making the pancakes as you usually would without a cookie cutter.
7. Drizzle your pancakes with chocolate ganache, recipe below, and enjoy!
1/2 cup of heavy cream
1/2 cup of dark chocolate chips
1. In a microwave safe bowl, add heavy cream and microwave on high for 1 minute.
2. Remove bowl from microwave and add chocolate chips. Make sure chocolate chips are not all in the centered and piled up. You want them spread evenly through the bowl so that they are mostly covered by the heavy cream.
3. Cover the bowl and let sit for five minutes.
4. Uncover and stir until smooth.
5. Pour over pancakes and enjoy!